The Reoperation, Readmission, and Complication Rates at 30 Days Following Lumbar Decompression for Cauda Equina Syndrome

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Journal Article

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cauda equina syndrome (ces); lumbar decompression; pearldiver; readmission; reoperation


Background and objective Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is considered a surgical emergency, and its primary treatment involves decompression of the nerve roots, typically in the form of discectomy or laminectomy. The primary aim of this study was to determine the complication, reoperation, and readmission rates within 30 days of surgical treatment of CES secondary to disc herniation by using the PearlDiver database (PearlDiver Technologies, Colorado Springs, CO). The secondary aim was to assess preoperative risk factors for a higher likelihood of complication occurrence within 30 days of surgery for CES. Methods A total of 524 patients who had undergone lumbar discectomy or laminectomy for CES were identified. The outcome measures were 30-day reoperation rate for revision decompression or lumbar fusion, and 30-day readmissions related to surgery. The patient data collected included medical history and surgical data including the number of levels of discectomy and laminectomy. Results Based on our findings, intraoperative dural tears, valvular heart disease, and fluid and electrolyte abnormalities were significant risk factors for readmission to the hospital within 30 days following surgery for CES. The most common postoperative complications were as follows: visits to the emergency department (63 patients, 12%), surgical site infection (21 patients, 4%), urinary tract infection (14 patients, 3%), and postoperative anemia (11 patients, 2%). Conclusions In the 30-day period following lumbar decompression for cauda equina syndrome, our findings demonstrated an 8% reoperation rate and 17% readmission rate. Although CES is considered an indication for urgent surgery, gaining awareness about reoperation, readmission, and complication rates in the immediate postoperative period may help calibrate expectations and inform medical decision-making.


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